Brandt: Top Prospects of 2011 NFL Draft

What if teams drafted solely on best player available and didn't consider their specific needs? What if teams didn't consider a player's injury history, off-field issues, psychological exams, intelligence tests, or workout results at the NFL Scouting Combine and pro days?

It's what I did in compiling my "Hot 100" list of prospects, all of whom will be represented at the combine this week in Indianapolis. I took out all the non-football things that go into a complete analysis of a player and listed them strictly on talent and ability. It's not a mock draft, but this should give you an idea of how they are rated by most NFL teams as players.

Note: Tiers are listed alphabetically; * denotes early entrant.

Tier 1Da'Quan Bowers*, DE, Clemson, 6-4, 276
Can get after the quarterback. Had 15.5 sacks for the Tigers in 2010. Has very good speed for position.

Marcell Dareus*, DT, Alabama
Can play in both 3-4 and 4-3 defensive schemes. Had 4.5 sacks for Crimson Tide in 2010. Never takes a play off.

Nick Fairley*, DT, Auburn, 6-5, 300
Only played two years at Auburn after spending first two years at junior college. Had 11.5 sacks for Tigers in 2010.

Blaine Gabbert*, QB, Missouri, 6-4, 235
Two-year starter. Mobility a strength. Completed 63.4 percent of his passes in 2010. Works best out of the shotgun.

A.J. Green*, WR, Georgia, 6-3, 212
Was suspended four games in 2010 by NCAA for sale of a bowl jersey. Still finished with 57 catches and nine TDs.

Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M, 6-2, 240
Led the nation in sacks as a junior and even had 10.5 last year despite an early-season injury.

Cam Newton*, QB, Auburn, 6-5, 245
Only a one-year college player, but he passed for 30 TDs and ran for 20, with a 66.1 completion percentage.

Patrick Peterson*, DB, LSU, 6-0, 215
Very good return man. Able to cover the pass and play strong against the run.

Robert Quinn*, DE, North Carolina, 6-5, 254
Missed the entire 2010 season after violating NCAA rules. In 2009, he had 11 sacks.

Tyron Smith*, OT, USC
He's a natural fit at right tackle. Has long arms and is very athletic for his size.

Tier 2Akeem Ayers*, OLB, UCLA, 6-4, 249
Had four sacks and two INTs in 2010. Has speed and can blitz or play in space.

Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa, 6-4, 285
Only had 3.5 sacks last year, down from the year before. Watch the Penn State film to see him at his best.

Anthony Castonzo, OL, Boston College, 6-7, 308
He started all four years for the Eagles. Played left guard at the Senior Bowl.

Mark Ingram*, RB, Alabama, 5-10, 215
Injured and shared time in 2010. A good inside runner, who rushed for 13 touchdowns last season.

Julio Jones*, WR, Alabama, 6-4, 211
Able to return kicks. Had 78 catches for 1,133 yards and seven touchdowns last season.

Cameron Jordan, DE, California, 6-4, 283
Father, Steve, played tight end for the Vikings for 13 years. Cameron had 5.5 sacks in 2010.

J.J. Watt*, DE, Wisconsin, 6-6, 279
Transferred from Western Michigan, where he played TE. Seven sacks in 2010. Shined against Ohio State.

Aldon Smith*, DE, Missouri, 6-5, 260
Missed some games with injuries last season. In 2009, he had 11.5 sacks.

Jimmy Smith*, DB, Colorado, 6-2, 205
Tall and has long arms. Has good speed. Why no interceptions in 2010?

Nate Solder, OL, Colorado, 6-9, 315
High school tight end, who moved to OT after his freshman year at Colorado. Has great feet and long arms.

Tier 3Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska, 6-1, 205
Four-year college player, two-year starter. Had five INTs in 2009, but none in 2010.

Gabe Carimi, OL, Wisconsin, 6-7, 327
Four-year starter. Can he play left tackle in the NFL? Or is he only a right tackle?

Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue, 6-4, 263
Lacks the size (weight) as a defensive end, but he has quickness. Had 12.5 sacks in 2010.

Corey Liuget*, DT, Illinois, 6-3, 300
Had 63 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 2010. Was named All-Big Ten Second Team.

Jake Locker, QB, Washington, 6-3, 230
Very athletic with good speed. Needs to improve his accuracy.

Ryan Mallet*, QB, Arkansas, 6-7, 238
Has a very strong arm. Threw 32 TD passes in 2010, completing 64.7 percent of his passes.

Mike Pouncey, OL, Florida, 6-5, 315
Brother, Maurkice, made Pro Bowl as rookie with Steelers. Mike stayed a fourth year with Gators.

Kyle Rudolph*, TE, Notre Dame, 6-5, 253
Only played six games last year. Had 28 catches and three touchdowns. Lots of upside.

Torrey Smith*, WR, Maryland, 6-0, 202
Has outstanding speed. Named All-ACC First Team. Had 67 catches and 12 touchdowns in 2010.

Muhammad Wilkerson*, DT, Temple, 6-5, 295
Very good production. 70 tackles and 9.5 sacks. Lots of upside.

Tier 4Allen Bailey, DL, Miami, 6-4, 285
Has speed for his position. Seven sacks and 11 tackles for loss in 2010. All-ACC Second Team.

Jonathan Baldwin*, WR, Pittsburgh,6-5, 224
Had 53 catches and five touchdowns in 2010. Was named All-Big East First Team.

Bruce Carter, LB, North Carolina, 6-3, 235
Can play the run or play in space. Good special teams player, too.

Cam Heyward, DT, Ohio State, 6-5, 288
Played well in the Sugar Bowl. Made move inside to tackle. His father, "Ironhead" Heyward, played in the NFL.

Mikel Leshoure*, RB, Illinois, 6-0, 227
Had a fantastic season in 2010, with 1,697 rushing yards and 20 total TDs (17 rushing, three receiving).

Rahim Moore*, DB, UCLA, 6-1, 196
All-Pac 10 First Team selection. Has good range and good ball skills.

Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State, 6-1, 311
Good inside pass rusher. Had six sacks in 2010. All-Pac 10 First Team selection.

Phil Taylor, DL, Baylor, 6-4, 337
Transferred from Penn State. Needs to improve stamina. Was named All-Big 12 Second Team.

Aaron Williams*, DB, Texas, 6-1, 192
Has the height every scout looks for. No INTs last season. All-Big 12 Second Team selection.

Martez Wilson*, OLB, Illinois, 6-4, 240
Had 112 tackles in 2010. He's an athletic player. All-Big Ten Second Team selection.

Tier 5Marvin Austin*, DL, North Carolina, 6-3, 310
Did not play in 2010. Has skills, but needs consistent effort. Big risk, but could be big reward.

Marcus Cannon, OL, TCU, 6-6, 350
A massive man with long arms. Needs to keep weight down. Two-time All-Mountain West First Team selection.

Jurrell Casey*, DL, USC, 6-1, 300
All-Pac 10 First Team selection. Inside player with pass rush skills.

Ras-I Dowling, DB, Virginia, 6-2, 200
Limited by injuries in 2010. Grading him as a safety, rather than cornerback.

Kenrick Ellis, DL, Hampton, 6-5, 336
A transfer from South Carolina. Has off-the-field issues. Good vs. the run.

Justin Houston*, LB, Georgia, 6-3, 254
All-SEC First Team selection. Had 10 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss. Can he play in space?

Jerrell Jernigan, WR, Troy, 5-9, 190
Might be the fastest player in the draft. Can return kicks. Had 84 catches and 11 total TDs in 2010.

Greg Little, WR, North Carolina, 6-3, 220
Ineligible in 2010. Has played RB before. Had 62 catches in 2009. A strong receiver.

Tyler Sash*, SS, Iowa, 6-1, 210
Two-time All-Big Ten First Team selection. Had 13 INTs the past two years. Fine athlete.

Ryan Williams*, RB, Virginia Tech, 5-10, 205
Injuries a question mark, but he has skills. Ten TDs in 2010. Had a very good 2009 season.

Tier 6Brandon Burton (DB, Utah), James Carpenter (OL, Alabama), Orlando Franklin (OL, Miami), Brandon Harris (DB, Miami), Rodney Hudson (OL, Florida State), Kendall Hunter (RB, Oklahoma State), Christian Ponder (QB, Florida State), Derek Sherrod (OL, Mississippi State), Daniel Thomas (RB, Kansas State), Titus Young (WR, Boise State).

Tier 7Clint Boling (OL, Georgia), Marcus Gilbert (OL, Florida), Ben Ijalana (OL, Villanova), Greg Jones (LB, Michigan State), DeMarco Murray (RB, Oklahoma), Johnny Patrick (DB, Louisville), William Rackley (OL, Lehigh), Robert Sands (DB, West Virginia), Jabaal Sheard (DL, Pittsburgh), K.J. Wright (LB, Mississippi State).

Tier 8Quinton Carter (DB, Oklahoma), Randall Cobb (WR, Kentucky), Andrew Dalton (QB, TCU), Leonard Hankerson (WR, Miami), Jarvis Jenkins (DL, Clemson), Drake Nevis (DL, LSU), Kelvin Sheppard (LB, LSU), Shane Vereen (RB, California), D.J. Williams (TE, Arkansas).

Tier 9Christian Ballard (DL, Iowa), Jeremy Beal (LB, Oklahoma), Mason Foster (LB, Washington), Edmund Gates (WR, Abilene Christian), Lance Kendricks (TE, Wisconsin), Niles Paul (WR, Nebraska), Jason Pinkston (OL, Pittsburgh), Jacquizz Rodgers (RB, Oregon State), Da'Norris Searcy (DB, North Carolina), Daniel Ziemba (OL, Auburn).

Tier 10Sam Acho (LB, Texas), Darvin Adams (WR, Auburn), Curtis Brown (DB, Texas), Delone Carter (RB, Syracuse), Chimdi Chekwa (DB, Ohio State), Marcus Gilchrist (DB, Clemson), Brandon Hogan (DB, West Virginia), Dontay Moch (LB, Nevada), Jonas Mouton (LB, Michigan), Brooks Reed (DL, Arizona), Jordan Todman (RB, Connecticut).

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